PDA

View Full Version : TR2/3/3A TR3-A or an MGA?



198686d
12-20-2008, 06:20 PM
If, trying to decide between these two classics, which one is the best to own and drive (est. 2,000 mi. p/yr)? No project cars or barn finds. I know what "good ones" cost and want a car at that level.

thanks,

dave in st. louis

TR6BILL
12-20-2008, 06:27 PM
Be easier to find a nice TR3 than an A. And cheaper to fix.

prb51
12-20-2008, 06:37 PM
Dave,
As I've a 56 TR3 I'm prejudiced.
The TR3's strong points are it's torque/HP and speed compared to the MGA. The MGA's strength is it handles better (R&P steering).
Maint is straightforward on the TR3 and the motors are known for their robust nature. I've driven mine more than you plan (10k in two years) without ever being roadside.
The electricals on the TR3 are easy too (nice considering the Lucas origins).
As to looks the MGA is a nice looking car with great lines the TR3 is something you like (rough purposeful) or you don't.
I've had mine going on 5 years now and like it more all of the time. Really has a personality.
Luck

alfa33047
12-20-2008, 07:18 PM
Having owned both an MGA and Triumph TR-3s and 4s, Nothing compares to the TR-3. TR-3s are the coolest old car that there is. The cut down doors, the unmistakable exhaust note, and the looks and attention you will get. The only other cars that I have owned that got just as much attention were an A.C. Cobra(real) and a XK-120 roadster. If you decide to buy an MGA you will miss out on a very unique experience that you can only find in a TR-3. Just ask anybody who has ever owned a nice TR-3 or someone who has a nice TR-3 driver what they think. I know that they will agree with me. I have found that the members of Triumph clubs are motorheads and are usually very knowledgable about their cars and are very helpful if you need help. As an old car guy (62 years old) who has been into sports cars all my life, a TR-3 is my recommendation for the best sports car money car buy. Bill C. Az.

prb51
12-20-2008, 07:47 PM
Hey Bill, don't hold back...tell Dave how you really feel!

TR3driver
12-20-2008, 08:42 PM
He he ... kind of a silly question to ask in the Triumph forum! Of COURSE we think Triumphs are better <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/grin.gif

I'd suggest a test drive in each one. I think you'll conclude, as I did, that there is simply no comparison.

Many years ago, a buddy and I were driving down the coast of FL, he in his MGA and me in my TR3A. Neither of us brought a top, of course, and we could see a big rainstorm blowing in towards us. We both floored it to run away from the rain ... he got wet, I didn't <<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/grin.gif

Andrew Mace
12-20-2008, 09:50 PM
I'm a lifelong, diehard Triumph guy; no question about that. But I'm also a lifelong, diehard British Car guy! I honestly don't think the two cars are truly comparable; rather, I think it really boils down to what appeals to you!

Car for car, though, I've worked on both and would prefer to work on the TR3. (Ever tried to set or change points in an MGA? Try to balance a couple brand-new 6v batteries on rusted-out brackets? Fussed underneath the rear of the MG trying to get the SU fuel pump going?) :smile:

Brooklands
12-20-2008, 10:52 PM
I think Andrew has the right advice here: Buy what you are most excited about. The opinions of others are just opinions, but the one that makes you happier is the one you should buy.

TR3driver
12-20-2008, 11:25 PM
Fussed underneath the rear of the MG trying to get the SU fuel pump going?) :smile: Driven down the road with the battery cover off, so you can reach back and thump the pump when it stops clicking ?

Those wooden floorboards were fun too, when you mounted the exhaust too close ...

tdskip
12-20-2008, 11:38 PM
You definitely need to drive a healthy example of each - you'll know right away which you prefer.

I'm lucky/dumb enough to have both and they are actually pretty different cars. The MGA feels more delicate, and lighter whereas it feels like you could pound nails with the TR3. I think a lot of it might depend on how you intend to use the car, I can see touring in an MGA but rallying a TR3.

I wouldn't necessarily agree that the MGA is harder to get parts for - it is pretty darn well supported and there is a fair amount of tuning you can do including dropping in an 1800 engine w/out having to hack the car up. Steering is sharper, and it rides better. The electrical system isn't really any better/worse than a TR3 and I'd strongly suggest that the MGA drive train is robust if looked after.

All that said, the TR3 is probably more visceral fun...

TR3driver
12-21-2008, 12:10 AM
including dropping in an 1800 engine w/out having to hack the car up. As opposed to a TR3, where you can take the original engine up to almost 2400 just by choosing drop-in rebuild parts.

And the TR has ordinary tube shocks in front, while the MGA has those funky lever shocks where the levers are also the upper A-arms.

DNK
12-21-2008, 12:24 AM
If, trying to decide between these two classics, which one is the best to own and drive (est. 2,000 mi. p/yr)? No project cars or barn finds. I know what "good ones" cost and want a car at that level.

thanks,

dave in st. louis

Nothin wrong with a nice 74 Pinto.

NickMorgan
12-21-2008, 07:20 AM
I just sneaked over to the MG forum and I didn't read any convincing arguments over there!!!
I think the MGA is a beautiful looking car, but I am someone who enjoys driving and working on my TR rather than polishing it and showing it.
They are both great classic cars, so it has to boil down to your personal taste.
Certainly the advice to look for the best you can afford and choose good bodywork before good mechanicals is the way to go.
If you do go for a TR try to find one with overdrive. It will make long journeys so much more pleasant.
https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v720/nickmorgan/TR3/WolseleyClubofIrelandAnnualTour2004319.jpg

vagt6
12-21-2008, 09:27 AM
The MG is a more comfortable car to drive and easier ingress/egress. No, I <span style="font-style: italic">didn't</span> say it was a more "girly" car (but some folks may). :lol:

And as usual, the Triumph is more of a driver's car. However, both unique and beautiful automobiles and literally guaranteed to turn heads wherever you go. You really can't go wrong either way.

I'll take a Triumph over an MG any day, simply because I've owned more Triumphs over the years. Having said that, I think the MGA is more attractive from a styling point of view.

But if you want what is possibly one of the planet's purest driving experiences, get the TR-3, I'd say.

JohnnyMead
12-21-2008, 09:51 AM
Dave,
I faced this This same decision earlier this year. I drove both and while I really liked the looks of the MGA, the TR3 was a better fit - literally! I need legroom and I found the TR3 interior fit me better.
Of course you may not have this challenge.
John
Carbondale, IL

Safari
12-21-2008, 10:14 AM
I own a TR6 and a 58 MGA. I have owned a TR4 and TR3 small mouth. I like both, the driving experience is very different at least for me. TR3 more power more torque and not quite as refined. For get up and go, go TR. MGA little more refined mot much just a little, under powered. The TR will keep up with traffic better. Out of all the cars I liked my TR4 the best of all a lot of the TR3 traits with roll up windows. The cut down doors on a TR3 are fun but can make you think about safety, not that a TR4 or 6 is much safer. MGA always advertised "Safety Fast", really not much difference.

Mickey Richaud
12-21-2008, 10:17 AM
Safari raises a great point - The TR4 is all that the 3 is, but with more creature comforts that the MGA might offer.

By the way, Safari - the wife and I both are from Louisiana; Shreveport and N.O.

Mickey

Brooklands
12-21-2008, 10:28 AM
Great photo Nick. Thanks for sharing. Maybe the 2010 calendar?

TR3driver
12-21-2008, 11:25 AM
MGA always advertised "Safety Fast", really not much difference. Which was kind of ironic, considering that Triumph got front disc brakes first, which were a big improvement in safety, IMO.

Safari
12-21-2008, 11:28 AM
You are sure living a a beautiful area now.

I have to add the hood bump on the TR4 just makes the car.

Safari
12-21-2008, 11:32 AM
Very true. I also like the TR shield which the ad shows so nicely.

At the time I had the TR3 I also had the MGA a Corvette and the wife had a Merkur XR4Ti. For just plain driving fun the TR3 was the ride of choice.

chris roop
12-21-2008, 01:11 PM
I posted in the MG forum, but had forgotten about the fuel pump. Mechanical in a logical place compared to electric in an inaccessible place. Hmm. Thanks Andrew!

Safari
12-21-2008, 01:21 PM
It is not hard to get to the MGA fuel pump and I have seen more than one car with 2 fuel pumps mounted and piped into the fuel line.

prb51
12-21-2008, 01:42 PM
Nick,
Great photo...and agreed, TR3's are excellent rally, hard use, cars. I was unaware the MGA never came with an OD unit....can't wait to 'meet' one on the highway now I've the 5 speed....

198686d
12-21-2008, 02:35 PM
...thanks from one 62 yr. old guy to another. You're helping me see the wisdom of the TR3 choice...

thanks,

dave

198686d
12-21-2008, 02:42 PM
That '74 Pinto is nice, but those AMC Pacers really let you see the road.

Andrew Mace
12-21-2008, 02:54 PM
It is not hard to get to the MGA fuel pump and I have seen more than one car with 2 fuel pumps mounted and piped into the fuel line. I never said it was hard to get to the MGA fuel pump. I just like things where I don't have to crawl under the car. :wink:

I much preferred the "puller" SU pumps used on the earlier MG-TD. To this day, I have vivid memories of playing, literally, a riding mechanic in my buddy's TD. The fuel pump was having a hissy fit; fortunately we were pretty close to my buddy's house. Top down and RH side of the bonnet folded up, I would occasionally give the pump a good THWACK :hammer: to stun it back to action (having already read Dick O'Kane's book and memorized most of it) until we could get to his garage and effect a more permament repair (i.e., clean up the points in the pump, after which it was fine again).

Oh, BTW, MG-TDs are amongst my very all-time favorite British cars! I guess it helped that two of my best friends in high school had them!

DougF
12-21-2008, 04:12 PM
I had never thought of buying a TR3 until I drove one. They just overflow in character.

Moseso
12-21-2008, 04:20 PM
I can't believe this post has gotten this far without anyone saying, "I'd rather push a Triumph than drive an MG."

Having never even sat in an MGA, I can't speak to the differences, but having owned three TR3s, I can say that nothing (except, perhaps, my BMW R69S motorcycle) has been more fun to own/drive.

Andrew Mace
12-21-2008, 06:47 PM
I had never thought of buying a TR3 until I drove one. They just overflow in character. ...and gas, and oil, and coolant, and gear lube....

C'mon, you were all thinking the same; now you're jealous that I beat you to it! :smile:


I can't believe this post has gotten this far without anyone saying, "I'd rather push a Triumph than drive an MG."I don't think Irv Korey is on this Forum (inside joke for those of you who know Irv and his famous coveralls)!

Safari
12-21-2008, 07:34 PM
It is not hard to get to the MGA fuel pump and I have seen more than one car with 2 fuel pumps mounted and piped into the fuel line. I never said it was hard to get to the MGA fuel pump. I just like things where I don't have to crawl under the car. :wink:


Maybe my MGA is different but you don't crawl under the car to get to it. You just take off the battery cover and it mounted on the passenger side. Of course it has been so long since I had to work on it I may be wrong. Maybe mine was relocated. :smirk:

Geo Hahn
12-21-2008, 07:50 PM
I can't believe this post has gotten this far without anyone saying, "I'd rather push a Triumph than drive an MG."...

Triumph drivers helping an MG owner park her car at a local show (died on the way onto the field):


https://www.cybertrails.com/~ahwahnee/mga%20push.JPG

Safari
12-21-2008, 08:29 PM
I can't believe this post has gotten this far without anyone saying, "I'd rather push a Triumph than drive an MG."...

Triumph drivers helping an MG owner park her car at a local show (died on the way onto the field):


https://www.cybertrails.com/~ahwahnee/mga%20push.JPG
I have seen that a several car shows.

OK, I own a TR6 and have owned more Triumphs than any other car I just happen to also own a MGA.

The other day I was in my garage cleaning up and I found an old trailer hitch, I then remember it came off my TR3. I used the TR3 to haul the rusted out frames and other junk parts off of 2 MGA's I had parted out to the dump. I did get some strange looks pulling a trailer full of junk MG parts with a red TR3. That was back in 1984.

Andrew Mace
12-21-2008, 08:32 PM
Maybe my MGA is different but you don't crawl under the car to get to it. You just take off the battery cover and it mounted on the passenger side. Of course it has been so long since I had to work on it I may be wrong. Maybe mine was relocated. :smirk: Or you might be right. This was a very, very long time ago that I did this on a friend's car. Likely I didn't know better at the time!

billspohn
12-22-2008, 07:34 PM
I have owned many of both. I have owned TR-2, TR-3, TR3A, TR3B, TR-4 and Swallow Doretti. I have owned MGA 1500, 1600, 1600 Mk 2, roadsters, coupes, and Twin Cams.

The TR has guts. It is faster than an MGA in a straight line. The MGA handles better. It is better built - frame, suspension etc.

If you want a fun play toy for summer, a TR-3 is hard to beat. If you want to cover long distances at relatively high speed in comfort, the MGA is the way to go.

I won't make any decisions based on styling as I like both for very different reasons. I would not touch another TR-4 - the styling does nothing for me.

4aKen
12-22-2008, 11:01 PM
Cheap shot artist! I'll park my TR4a irs next to anything in your stable.

John_Mc
12-23-2008, 01:59 AM
I say get both.

Safari
12-23-2008, 06:56 AM
I hope you guys are friends.

I have owned a 6, 4, an a 3. I still like the 4 the best. I really like my 6 but still see the 4 under the sheet metal.

A TR 4a IRS is something I could find room for.

TR6BILL
12-23-2008, 07:13 AM
My buddy owns 2 newish Jags, a TR3 with GT6 engine, a concours TR4A, a decent TR6, a sweet TR8 hardtop restomod, a restored Europa, a sweet Esprit, 2 Mini Coopers, and is restoring a TR2 to concours. His daily driver? A Miata.

angelfj1
12-23-2008, 08:19 AM
If, trying to decide between these two classics, which one is the best to own and drive (est. 2,000 mi. p/yr)? No project cars or barn finds. I know what "good ones" cost and want a car at that level.

thanks,

dave in st. louis

without exception, everyone I know who owns an mga complains that they are quite underpowered! That's never been the case with any TR model.

billspohn
12-23-2008, 10:48 AM
without exception, everyone I know who owns an mga complains that they are quite underpowered! That's never been the case with any TR model.

True, the TR is a lovely torquey motor. And MGAs, except for the Twin Cam, are smaller engined lower powered cars. But it is easier to give an MG more power than it is to make a TR handle as well as an MG!

And Ken, that wasn't a cheap shot at TR-4s by any means. It was a personal judgement formed from years of personal experience with the cars. I don't happen to like the styling of the TR4 nearly as much as the TR3. I would say exactly the same thing about the MGB vs. the MGA. Which is why I currently own neither TR4 nor MGB.

kodanja
12-23-2008, 11:00 AM
I helped a buddy restore a 63' MGA,
It came out beautiful!

100% resto including complete over haul of the engine.

When I drove it it felt very underpowered! It had troulbe going up hills...

(at the time I had my 73' GT6!)

I have never drivin a TR3....

Andrew Mace
12-23-2008, 03:16 PM
I helped a buddy restore a 63' MGA....
When I drove it it felt very underpowered! It had troulbe going up hills...(at the time I had my 73' GT6!).... And I think this example shows again how subjective and personal these sorts of choices are. It's not just looks; rather, it's the whole package as you perceive it and are willing to live with it! I've driven a number of MGAs and never thought they were particularly underpowered. That includes a very original and well-maintained 1500 and a beater (but sweet-running and thoroughly enjoyable) old 1500 that long ago got an MGB 1800 engine transplant.

And I had to chuckle when you mentioned the '73 GT6. I had a 1970 GT6+ for many years and loved it to [its near-]death. When it got so rusty as to be unsafe, I mothballed it and picked up a cheap '72 GT6 Mk3, the first year of the low-compression engine and a drop in rated hp from 95 to 79. It wasn't difficult to feel the difference between the '70 and the '72, the latter having a perceptibly more difficult time keeping up with my buddy's 240Z! In fairness to the '72, though, it had had some bodywork issues that I never got around to resolving (enough rot in the bonnet around the hinge tubes to make it start to float around at higher speeds, which made me a bit nervous), and the struggles to keep up with that 240Z were mostly at speeds above 75 mph! :eeek:

billspohn
12-23-2008, 03:50 PM
I helped a buddy restore a 63' MGA....
When I drove it it felt very underpowered! It had troulbe going up hills...(at the time I had my 73' GT6!).... And I think this example shows again how subjective and personal these sorts of choices are. It's not just looks; rather, it's the whole package as you perceive it and are willing to live with it! I've driven a number of MGAs and never thought they were particularly underpowered. That includes a very original and well-maintained 1500 and a beater (but sweet-running and thoroughly enjoyable) old 1500 that long ago got an MGB 1800 engine transplant.


A 1962 MGA (they didn't make a 1963 model) would have had the 1622 engine and would have been a decent performer, though obviously not as quick as a TR3 with a larger engine. While it wouldn't be as fast up hills as a 4 cylinder TR, it should have been with a smogger GT6 - maybe his engine was down on p[ower?

Even the stock TR2 had decent grunt. I had a dead stock low port 90 BHP car that did an honest 110 MPH (no OD on it) with Brooklands screens. By contrast, an MGA will top out about 5 MPH sooner on top end and won't be as quick through the fgears, but as they are similar weights that is no surprise.

And you can always 'improve' them. I had one TR-3 that was a 2.2 high compression engine with around 135 BHP that would lay rubber in second, with sticky gumballs on it. I also have an MG motor that puts out way more than that.

The build quality was inferior on the Triumphs. If you have ever restored from the frame up, you'll know that the frame is shoddily put together with half the welds cold and they need complete rewelding to race them. The suspension is weak - MGs didn't build cars whose A arm mounts pulled off the frame (I've had more than one TR do that). But the TR2-3 styling was unique and they had a lot of spirit, so I never cared that they handled like the proverbial oxcart in comparison.

If I had more room and more time, I'd certainly think about owning another TR-3.

kodanja
12-23-2008, 03:52 PM
Dont get me wrong I enjoyed driving the MGA &amp; I loved the body style,
It just wasnt my cup of tea!

billspohn
12-23-2008, 06:05 PM
Dont get me wrong I enjoyed driving the MGA &amp; I loved the body style,
It just wasnt my cup of tea!

If you drive a TR6 it would be hard to give up that nice torque - I'd definitely miss it!

kodanja
12-23-2008, 08:15 PM
at the time I was driving my GT6, So maybe thats why I thought the MGA was a bit underpowered..

Their really two different animals....

https://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k270/KODANJA7/gt6squeeze001.jpg
https://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k270/KODANJA7/gt6.jpg

Mickey Richaud
12-24-2008, 08:35 PM
Dave -

Bottom line is that none of us can sway you in either direction. The choices are too subjective. Go look at and drive both of them, and whichever one "speaks" to you, jump on it. Do that, and you can't go wrong!

Mickey

198686d
01-20-2009, 04:40 PM
This photo is quite convincing.

tdskip
01-20-2009, 05:01 PM
Photo?

NickMorgan
01-20-2009, 05:24 PM
I heard the snow was bad in the USA!

kodanja
01-20-2009, 05:38 PM
Ive never heard of GOOD snow!!!!

(((I HATE THE COLD)))

tinman58
01-20-2009, 05:48 PM
What snow? But I live in California.
I have had both a MGA and two TR3's. In my own opinion the TR is a much more fun car to drive, It is also easier to work on.I belive the TR is a much more Manly car. It depends on your own tastes of what you like a typical MG or a "really cool" TR3
Dan